If the unthinkable has happened to you, and your personal identifiable information has been stolen, there are number of things you can do to minimize the damage and restore your good name and credit score.
As with any crime, the first step to a successful resolution is to call the authorities and report the incident. Then, you’ll need to immediately notify any credit card companies and banks where you have an account. If you are covered by an identity theft insurance provider, your next call should be to them, and they will take appropriate action to notify any agency that could be impacted by the breach.
The next step is to get a current copy of your credit report from all three of the major credit reporting bureaus. As a victim of consumer fraud or identity theft, you have a number of rights and remedies that can help restore your identity and credit score to pre-theft levels. If you think you have been a victim, you have a right to receive a free credit report from all three of the major credit bureaus. These documents are a good source for determiniing the amount of damage you have suffered as a result of the breach in your personal security. If you request it, the credit bureaus will place a fraud alert or an identity theft flag on your credit file. These flags make it much more difficult for a thief to get credit in your name.
If your credit score reflects damage due to identity theft or fraud, you have the right to ask the credit bureaus to suppress that information and not make it available as part of your credit report. If the block is approved by the credit bureaus, companies holding these debts cannot sell them to collection agencies or collect on them.
You also have the right to examine any and all documentation used by the thief to obtain credit from the lenders involved. Taking a look at these documents and sharing them with police investigator may be all you need to identity the perpetrator and bring him or her to justice.
The next best step in recovering your pre-theft status is to enroll in an identity theft service. Service providers such as LifeLock, Identity Guard, TrustedID, Guard Dog ID, and Reputation Defender will not only prevent future breaches of your personal identifiable information, they’ll help you recover your good name and credit score. You can also use many of their other services as part of your membership, such as anti-virus and anti-spyware software for your computers. Notification services let you know when a dangerous criminal has moved into your neighborhood. Other services include helping you recover and prevent damage if you happen to lose your wallet.
The important steps to recovering from identity theft are notifying all of the relevant authorities, knowing all of your remedies and legal rights, and forming an effective defense against future breaches.